If you know me and have been following my columns, you must have understood by now that I am not your typical mother. I do not follow the herd and definitely belong to the old school of parenting where life was without extra curricular classes, lavish birthday parties and over-the-top healthy eating.
Basically, we as kids had a simple life that was full of boredom and it was we the kids who figured out what we wanted to do with our free time. I am not saying that you should not be a conscious parent. You must. But doing something simply because others are doing so or the “parenting rule book says so” is something that is not acceptable to me as a mother.
Talking about “parenting rules”, the one thing that all young mothers are made to follow or should I say forced to follow is putting their kids early to bed. While I don’t disagree with the fact that kids need a good night’s sleep for a healthy body and mind, I do not think that putting your child to bed by 8 solves this purpose and I have my reasons for it.
How is it even possible in an Asian set up?
I mean it’s impossible, especially if you belong to a traditional Asian family that has dinner between 8 to 9 every day. Then how can you put your child to bed as soon as he finishes his dinner?
Don’t doctors say that you should sleep two hours after you have your dinner? And if you want to put your child to bed by 8, should you be giving him dinner at 6? Don’t you think I have a valid point over here?
Secondly, what if your toddler takes a nap in an afternoon? How can you then force the poor little munchkin to shut his eyes at 8 when clearly sleep is nowhere close to him.
And if you think I am just saying it for the heck of it, let me tell you that I tried to follow the “sleep at 8” timetable for my little girl the moment she turned three. But it didn’t work for us!
Really! It just didn’t. I am a working mother and I pick my daughter up from the daycare every day at around 6:30. Putting my daughter to bed at 8 meant giving her an early dinner, probably at around 7:00 or as soon as we reach home so that she had 45 minutes to an hour to finish her homework and just relax before she sleeps.
But… she would just not sleep!
Of course, we didn’t really stick to 8 and usually, we would only wind up at 8:30. And then I would start the mammoth task of putting my daughter to bed even when she wasn’t sleepy. So to make the plan a success I tried all methods—story telling, reading her favourite stories, putting some relaxing music that helps babies sleep, singing her favourite lories and even pretending that I am asleep next to her.
However, she would JUST NOT SLEEP! She would do it all and still at 10 she would be wide awake and ask me to tell her another story. And even after that, she would be up and active.
Slowly the enthusiasm just faded away and this sleeping at 8 became a dreadful exercise that would only leave me frustrated and my daughter upset because momma was not in a good mood.
At the end of one month, I realised that it was just not required. We often hear that every child is different, but do we actually find out what is it that suits our child before we start a new routine or take up something just because that is the set norm?
I changed the rules…
I realized that sleeping at 8 was not something that my daughter wanted because she didn’t feel like it. So, I changed the rules. I let her do her own thing and decided to follow her lead. And guess what! We were no longer under any kind of pressure.
We became carefree and easy going. My daughter would have her dinner in peace and then do her homework. After that, she would laze around the house playing with her toys or just reading her favorite book. Then, at about 9:30 to 10, she would sit with me and tell me about her day and what was it that she did the whole day.
We would talk and talk; about her school, day care and friends and other things in general. And I saw that only when she had told me all would she be sleepy. What’s more, she did not really require me to put her to bed. She would just doze off on her own!
And till today, even now when she is six years old, this is our favourite time of the day. The time we spend together before we finally go to bed. It is our “we” time as a mother and daughter and we totally love it!
The truth is, no mom is a perfect mother and there is nothing that is right or wrong when it comes to parenting. Am so happy that I decided to ditch the norm and do what my daughter wanted.
This article was originally published on theIndusparent
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